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It is always difficult to assess an apparent healing. Was the person really healed? Is there documented evidence? Was it spontaneous remission?
This case meets our natural scepticism. A teenage boy, living since birth with a serious blockage in his digestive system that couldn’t be resolved medically, was healed almost instantly while receiving healing prayer. The case is documented and presented in a prestigious medical journal. It really seems that God healed him.
A medical condition that couldn’t be resolved
In 1995, a two-week old boy was admitted to hospital with severe vomiting that proved to be triggered by a blockage between his stomach and his small intestine, preventing food from leaving the stomach and being absorbed into the body via the intestine.
If I have read the medical report correctly, it was initially thought that the blockage was caused by a thickening of a muscular valve (the pylorus) at the base of the stomach, and so several surgical procedures were undertaken. However these didn’t relieve the symptoms.
Further tests were carried out, and a diagnosis of gastroparesis was made. Gastroparesis is a congenital defect in the vagus nerve or an injury to it during previous surgery. The vagus nerve causes the stomach to tighten and move food down into the digestive tract, but when not working correctly doesn’t allow the stomach to empty.
Over the next few months, the boy underwent several more surgical procedures, but none effectively resolved the condition, and he was unable to accept food through the mouth. Eventually tubes were inserted through his skin into his stomach and intestine, to allow feeding directly, bypassing the mouth and throat. The final and more or less permanent tube was inserted when he was 11 months old.
Life goes on
With this arrangement, the boy was able to feed and grow normally. The medical report says that over the next seven years (i.e. aged 1 to 8) “physicians used every appropriate medical treatment …. including medications and surgical procedures”. But the boy remained unable to tolerate oral ingestion of food or even water, and the two tubes (G-tube in the stomach and J-tube in the intestine) continued to be required.
Some forms of gastroparesis resolve after a couple of years, but in this case the symptoms remained severe and the prognosis for recovery was poor. He continued with the tubes in place until he reached the age of 16.
An unexpected healing
The boy was part of a christian family who attended a church which didn’t believe the gift of healing was given to anyone today. Nevertheless, when he was 16, the family attended a healing meeting at a Pentecostal church (Bethel Church in Redding, California) led by a “healing evangelist”.
The speaker talked of his own experience of recovering from a serious track accident where his intestines were severed, and the boy felt a “pulsating sensation in his abdominal region”, and says he felt as if God was preparing him to receive healing.
After the talk, the boy received prayer and laying on of hands that “in the name of Jesus, the boy’s stomach be healed”. Halfway through the prayer, the boy felt a painful shock, “a pulsating and electrical sensation” from his shoulder to his abdomen. The report points out that something like heat, tingling or electricity is often felt by people receiving healing.
The boy went home that night and ate a meal without any complications for the first time in his 16 year life.
The boy visited his pediatric gastroenterologist, who confirmed the symptoms had resolved, and recommended waiting three months to test his continuing tolerance to normal oral feeding. When he was able to continue to eat normally, the tubes were removed and the abdominal wall surgically closed.
From this time forwards, 6 years at the time of the report, the boy’s healing has continued – “his intolerance to oral feedings was completely resolved”. In that time he “has had no need to see the pediatric gastroenterologist or surgeon, take any medication, nor has he had any health problems.”
The medical report considers the possibilities of a placebo effect and a natural recovery, but finds both of these are unlikely. They report:
We have found no precedents in the literature for such a sudden resolution of all symptoms after sixteen years of gastroparesis (since infancy)…. The complete resolution of severe gastroparesis symptoms (i.e., dependent on feeding tubes) is not known to spontaneously occur, and studies of placebos have shown only partial resolution of symptoms at best.
It really does seem as if this was a genuine and unexpected healing miracle.
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